I did not believe the pain my aunt and my cousins were feeling when they made the decision to donate the organs of my deceased nephew. Doctors and psychologists were running up and down in favor of other lives that dependend on this decision. We lost hope of seeing João Roberto return home

The beginning of our pain. The mother returned home with her children after visiting her family. She was in the car with her two sons when she heard the police car’s siren. She could see through the mirror that the police was chasing a criminal. She gave way so the police could pass.

From that moment on, the fate of her eyes would be tears and the fate of her heart, pain.

The police officers left their car, holding guns and shot Alessandra’s car. She panics and tries to calm her son, so she tells him to lie down. João Roberto asks: “Lie down? Why mommy?”. In the backseat, João Roberto Amorin, three years old, is shot in the head. His 10 month old brother watches everything

The mother in shock throws the child’s bag through the window in order to show the police that they were shooting in the wrong car.

The camera of a residential building records the disastrous approach of the police against Alessandra’s car. João Roberto Amorim is one more child murdered by the state police. The governor of Rio de Janeiro at the time said he would fire the police officers. After three years of this event, the responsible officers were still not fired, are in freedom – while João’s family mourns and seeks justice.

The family is in mourning. The crime is slowly forgotten with the passage of time. The cycle of killing continues because of the technical inefficiency of those who should be able to guard and protect the greater good of a country, its people and especially the most vulnerable ones: children and the youth.

What about the death of João Roberto?

Scenes of the police approaching the family car were recorded and the family drama had national repercussion. The government promised they would take action to punish the executors of the child. However, the cops who shot 16 bullets into Alessandra’s car and killed the boy remain free. As a mother, she continues to mourn. She feels the pain of the relentless pursuit of justice.

João Roberto Amorim, three years old, lived in Grajaú. Agata dos Santos, 11 years old, lived in the favela of Rocinha. Hugo Cavalcanti, 12 years old, lived in Leblon. Gilbert Wesley Rodrigues de Andrade, 11 years old, shot dead inside his school, lived in Costa Barros. Adrielly, 7 years old, lived in Quentino. Allana, 14 years old, lived in the slums of Dende.

Abram Maximilian, 15 years old, lived in the slums of the “Complexo do Alemão”. William de Oliveira, 8 years old, lived in the favela “Morro do Chapadão”. Juliana Rodriguez, six years old, lived in “Ilha do Governador”. Marlysson Ribeiro Pereira, 12 years old, lived in “Vila Kennedy”. All of them children. Each one of them from a different neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. All of them add to the statistics of people killed by lost bullets in Rio.

All of them represented broken dreams: the breaking down of a family. The internal destruction is so deep that only the Carrara marble carved by Michelangelo, in every part, every curve and detail of his work La Pietà, is able to record a small part of the scars that bleed into the hearts of each mother and each of us.

When one child dies in such a tragic manner, the families – and especially the women – of children who had had a similar fate organize to help, no matter in what neighborhood the child died. They help families who are suffering now the loss they also have suffered. The victim becomes their own executed child. They follow along with the family until the funeral and join a network to provide guidance to families in mourning.

When these mothers see the dead child, they act as if there was their own son: some scream, faint, go into emotional crisis as the mothers relieve the pain of losing a child again.

It is an endless pain, pain without an answer, a pain that only those who lost a son in tragic death as they did know the depth.

The feelings experienced by mothers are beyond the pain of losing a loved one. A moral pain is created with false information, pre-judgment about the crime to tarnish the image of the dead. The victim becomes responsible for his or her own death.

In the video of the funeral of Matheus, only 8 years old, killed by a stray bullet, the family’s pain is huge and audible. The voice saying "Why did they kill my son?" belongs to his mother, Mrs. Glaciene Rodrigues dos Santos, in the lament of his bloody pain.

He had gone to a nearby bakery to buy bread when he was hit by a bullet. He immediately fell on the ground with a $ 1.00 coin in one of his hands.

For Glaciene’s question, there are no answers. If there is no one to blame, there is no crime? The expected response to a murder is the punishment of murderers.

The death of Mrs. Ana Cristina Ribeiro’s son, a boy who loved football and had the dream of becoming a player, showed that in areas of conflict, there is no safety even within one’s home. Marlysson was inside, lying on the sofá, when he was hit by a bullet and died.

Families around the world believe that their child is safe when parents are close to them or when they are inside their homes. The barriers created by their families to protect children are not strong enough to protect them from the powerful weapons that are recklessly handled by both police officers and criminals in Rio de Janeiro.

“On Saturday he was my son. Today he is a number in statistics. I pay my taxes and my son kept under my wing, but I could not protect him even at home”, says Ana Cristina Mother, Marlysson’s mother.

Most executors are police officers when they have to approach the slums for an operation. Some cases are also occurring with military personnel. Most of the weapons that killed these children have been used by the police.

How can these families resume their lives if they are stuck in a web of pain and fear? There is a lack of legal compliance with their loss. The least they seek is justice.

The families who lost children found support in a "Community Network Against Violence and Social Movements." The network is located in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

It is a movement against state violence and human rights violations committed by representatives of the state itself in communities and slums. The organization was established in 2004, and it counts on people from the communities and human rights activists.

It is a statewide network, but because it has protected people in other states and countries, it could be considered an international network.

The organization has won awards for its outstanding work. It offers a space of listening to these families as well as support and guidance on how to act in the face of pain. As a supportive space where the family has a voice, the organization offers psychological and legal consultations.

It does not have a source of statistics about the cases treated, making it difficult to compare the official numbers on victims of stray bullets with the organization’s outcomes. They are currently experiencing another kind of phenomenon in the slums: many young people are going missing.

In an interview for a website page Diary of a judge posted on August 8, 2010, Attorney Mark Andrew Chut, who works for Rio’s Public Ministry, refers to these cases of youths gone missing:

"One does not need the victim’s body to prove a crime. It is enough to have the ‘corpus delicti’. That is, a set of material traces of a crime. If it is the victim's body, better. But other elements are also useful, such as blood and bones. Materiality can be proven indirectly, through evidence, testimony and forensic evidence."

The experts say in the absence of material evidence of the victim's death, the Brazilian Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes testimonials of witnesses to serve as enough proof to carry on the prosecution of suspects.

It is already difficult enough to prosecute the murderers when there are video cameras filming the crime, as in the case of João Roberto Amorim. In this case, there was his lifeless body and other material evidence. So there was no question on who were the perpetrators or whether the crime had actually happened. These facts were given. But what about a situation in which a son disappears and the mother only knows he's dead because someone told her?

It is virtually impossible to find the perpetrator.

Apart from the suffering, the mother’s pain does not materialize. She cannot bury her child, even if she has information on the death of his son. There is hope of finding him all day, even if only his lifeless body.

Women, especially those who fight for their rights, still have the fear of retaliation. Some are forced to abandon homes or the country because of the threats.

The Network gives support for complaints, at national and international cases of violence and rights violations by the state in communities.

Marcia Jacintho also belongs to the Network. She had her son, Henry Silva Gomes, executed at age 16. She studied law in order to prove the innocence of her son. She investigated the case on her own and was able to prove that the military police killed him.

"The investigation that our justice system would not want to do, I did on my own." said Marcia.

Marcia says in her speech that the state of Rio criminalizes poverty.

Marcia was honored with the award “Making a Difference”. She dedicated it with emotion to an audience with a standing ovation, saying: "This trophy is ours, the parents who lost children to the State of Rio."

The Network has won several awards. A documentary "Between the walls and slums" in the Exhibition International Ethnographic Film, also received the "Chico Mendes Resistance Medal 2007" Award and the Special Secretariat for Human Rights of Presidency of the Republic.

Luis Carlos Nascimento’s documentary "Mourning as a mother" shows the struggle of women who lost their relatives executed by agents of the state of Rio de Janeiro. It tells the story of five women in this group of mourning rite of passage for justice and the fight against invisibility.

Professor Maria Helena Moreira Alves, PhD in political science from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), resident in Chile, a militant in the area of Human Rights, said in Skaype interview about the launch of the book "Living in the Crossfire: Favela Residents, drug dealers and police violence in Rio de Janeiro. She affirms: "This book shows the fragility of families before the confrontation and the fate of the projectiles that lose control and find themselves in the deep pain of a mother."

La Piedà! Pitié! 遺憾! Lástima! Jammer! Mitleid! Piedade! Escutem o grito das mães! Elas imploram, querem abraçar a justiça, ouçam o grito da Boca do Mundo. O grito da dor da perda.

La Pied! Pitié! 遗憾! Alas! Jammer! Mitleid! Mercy! Hear the cry of mothers! They beg, they want to embrace justice, hear the cry of the Mouth of the World. The cry of grief. ‘voice of the world’.

May justice find the truth of each crime. That every murderer finds a punishment. Not escape the control of the state the responsibility of each act of the causative agent of emotional loss of these families.

May justice wipe the tears of the mothers condemning the murderers of their children.

This production was originally written in Portuguese.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.


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Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future 2012: Frontline Journals.


Hi Valeria,

I can relate so much to your article. My nephew was killed while he was working right outside his house. That was four and a half years ago, and till this day we do not know why it happened or who did it. I can remember every detail of that night as if it was yesterday. While the murderers go free, the pain and the effects on the family have been endless. It has become a very common thing where I live, and I actually thought about writing about the it. Your article hit very close to home, and is bringing tears to my eyes as I write this. My heart goes out to anyone going through such unbearable pain.

Much love, Noreen

Dear Noreen I can feel your pain. You could get in touch with Patricia and form a support network for these families, she has experience and could contribute. Can I ask for guidance and they will pass it.

Kisses and stay with God.


O soooo sad, i feel so sad tears feel my eyes and i could not read again,.

oh sad sad sad...

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre, 713 Road, A Close, Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria https:

Dear Olutosin, is very sad, but I need to talk. I can not let the pain overcome the power of the voice, to get support for these families. A more compromising justice in relation to these deaths.

Death always happen the same reason, lack of preparation for the task.



It is sad Valerie, I share in your pains. Colleagues are also killed at the course of our protest marches in Nigeria. I remember vividly a protester who was shot twice on his leg at Allen Avenue, Ikeja. While bleeding and in pains, he was speaking on camera telling everybody that police shoot him twice because he was protesting of wrong doing, that even if he dies, his colleagues would still carry on with the message he has.

I thought police brutality and extra-judicial killing is only peculiar to my country, I never know it happens elsewhere. Whether it is called stray-bullet or without intention of killing, I do wonder why police should venture firing guns at fellow individuals as if they fire at wild animals. And yet, the police is meant to protect life of persons.


I agree with you Celine. The police mission is to protect. Where there is fear, corruption, lack of companionship between the common and especially the emotional and technical unpreparedness, there is a violation of human rights.

From the moment that guns are used otherwise to curb drug trafficking in the favelas, the minimum should be more mature people behind them, and this is not always the case.

We know that the Rio de Janeiro is undergoing changes. Acquiring logistic to end marginalization. The desire to hit the public commands is great, only sometimes the shot goes in the direction of the innocent. Not all of the dead youths who make the news are bad guys. Are labeled marginal. Surely most of them are poor and black.

Dear Valeria

Though the situation is horrific, I thank you for sharing the good news at the end - that an initiative has begun to stop the murderous practice. At the end of the day, what's what matters!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Valeria congratulations for the courage to write, under pain of those who lose a loved one in such a drastic situation. We are always listening in victims of stray bullets, innocent people who are victimized by the negligence of some, even the fear of those who enter the communities bringing a power in the hands the power to end it all in matters of seconds, just hit the trigger that it all ends for many, but families, mothers are still suffering the great need of help this tragédia.sim, help, strong arms to protect him, because faith is debilitated forever. What remains to be done only support each other to keep going knowing that a piece of themselves was cut. More on that after we pass the shock is that we start thinking how we can do more to prepare our family that we were not approached by tragedies such as the government says it needs new shooters, more policing on the streets to give more safety and young people we see are almost without preparation in order to survive. You know I see that the educators have a share of participation in this process, we help our children to be a citizen to address the ills of the world providing security showing a way forward, helping to address the difficulties helping a person to be kinder more understanding more human we are strengthening each other and later we will find people more prepared to play with more humanity to the roles they have chosen. I know there is still much to do that kind of humanity we are seeking a long way more to be found for sure one day it will happen. I think today is how to police their children, if he have, his mother his love, to comment, as he sees her, was aware that the agent responsible for a family break up. Ending the dreams of an innocent man who just wanted to play and be happy, to run to the arms of their parents and guard their fears and insecurities. I think the consciousness of these people become very heavy, it should take long to get another look at the front. And what can we do warn our children to work is pain who stays, who was the cause of a tragedy because it undermines the many. Be supportive, be a great ally in the faith that tomorrow will be better.



Querida Iliani, fico feliz por tê-la entre nós no Word Pulse. Você tem participado do trabalho que desenvolvo na comunidade que ultrapassa o meu trabalho formal.

Conhece de perto os meus sonhos por ver os direitos humanos serem respeitados, agora amiga, terás a possibilidade de conhecer a história de mulheres maravilhosas que assim como eu trabalham em prol de um mundo mais justo.

Leia as histórias delas, além de você conhecer a cultura de outros países, participará efetivamente desta rede que dar voz as mulhere.

Agradeço o seu carinho em responder ao meu texto e concordo com a sua visão de educarmos para ser social mudar as açãões arbitrárias contra os homens.

Beijos no coração.

Iliana Honey, I'm happy to have her among us in Word Press. You have participated in the work I do in my community that goes beyond formal work.

You know my dreams closely to see human rights be respected, you have the possibility to know the wonderful story of women like me working for a fairer world.

Read their stories, but you know the culture of other countries, will participate in this network that effectively give voice to the Ladies.

Thank you for your kindness in replying to my text and I agree with his vision of educating for social change arbitrary action against the men.

Kisses in the heart.

This is sad. I feel so sad. So frustrated. " The family is in mourning. The crime is slowly forgotten with the passage of time. The cycle of killing continues because of the technical inefficiency of those who should be able to guard and protect the greater good of a country, its people and especially the most vulnerable ones: children and the youth".

Who therefore provides our security? who is our security where Security becomes the threats?

Stay Blessed


Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Wondieh

Twitter | Instagram: @ZoFem

Dear Zoneziwoh, sad fact is, we need to increase support networks is to empower women to claim their rights.

It is the duty of justice to act more severe in the assessment of these cases, giving penalties according to the damage caused and these children, adolescents and their families.

The network has done this work. Patricia works with a network diarimente team, for these causes, with respect and love. Families have come together to ease the pain of other families.

It only remains for those who kill go to jail.

Thank you for your cooperation.



Bravo Valeria! Your article is incredibly compelling. I had tears in my eyes after reading it. The responses that your article has received point to how your words have affected our community and how unfortunately this is a global issue. Thank you so much for sharing your story and the stories of so many families in Rio with us.

Keep up the incredible work.


"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Thankfully Rachel. I'm learning and discovering myself as a writer. 'And very good. This matter was very difficult.

Yesterday another child was shot, that in the West in Campo Grande - Rio de Janeiro. It is a baby of 11 months and is sick at the hospital. We must stop this cycle of violence in the slums.

May God protect us



Thank you for shining a light on this situation. Readers can feel your pain and the pain of the mothers and families that you write about. The interweaving of stories hints about how many children/families have been impacted. Sharing the children’s names and ages - along with quotes from their mothers and others - inspires me to care about their circumstances. I also appreciated the chance to see some of their faces in your photo attachments. How can people living in other places support the fight for justice?

Katherine Holt, katherine@peakinsight.com


Dear grateful for your observations. How can people live in other places support the fight for justice?

I realize that in some ways we can influence changes that are reflected in justice.

1 ° The community empowerment with knowledge about what their rights and what are your duties!

2 ° Promoting actions to strengthen local education with work beginning with the child and reach up to adults;

3° Dropping his voice, speaking of the possible problems and registering it in the media.

4 ° Spreading the context solutions that protect against threats.

5 ° Even living in the location of the problem or not, keep the outrage over human rights abuses. The look can not get used to the pain. The mouth must speak, if not the body gets ill.

6° Press the lights! Directing the focus to those who are suffering, if people see the pain became more committed to and worry about the other and or with herself. So with more people knowing it is easier to protect one who is being mistreated and force the authorities to rethink the way it operates.


It is always so sad and heartbreaking, isn't it, when the people that should protect us and enforce peace and quiet in our communities are the very same people killing us and killing our children. It then becomes very frustrating when nothing happens to ensure that justice is done after the terrible acts are discovered, publicised and condemned. I can only imagine the struggles that you face each day dealing with these issues and I am glad something is beginning to be done to solve this problem. Estar fuerte (in my broken Spanish).



Dear sister, what little I can do is talk. Speaking in the air carries the complaint, and being multiplied the knowledge of these facts, enables organs of defense to undertake to require justices for these deaths.

Valeria, my goodness... you are a loud-speaker of truth. This story is heart-breaking, but there are glimpses of hope in it. I am glad that there are people working to bring justice to the residents of Rio who have lost children. It's shocking to think that the very people who are tasked with protecting are the ones who kill. I am sure that when more people are aware of the injustice, willing to speak up and demand justice, there will be a change. So, so sad... I can only imagine the heartbreak of these families, and how hard it must be to wake up every day and go on.

Thank you for your courage to speak out on this issue. I will share your story widely.


Scott Beck

Scott grateful for the attention. My country has everything to be wonderful and is lost in power. The power to save, the power to have, to share, have good people in the police, yes it has. If there would be total chaos. The problem is the mask that is used when the error happens. If the error happens is the poor person is labeled a marginal, if the error happens to a person of power, falls by the wayside and runs away from justice.

You need to talk! just saying what oppresses us we see the freedom that arise or may arise only for the other.

As I read through, it felt like my heart stopped the moment I read the words.........João Roberto Amorin, three years old, is shot in the head. His 10 month old brother watches everything. I cannot imagine Alessandra's state of mind the moment she discovered Joao had been shot. Same for every mother and family who have experienced such tragedies. My heart goes out to ALL. I don't know what more to say, Valeria. But, kindly permit me to borrow your words......." May justice wipe the tears of the mothers condemning the murderers of their children".



Dear sisters in the world. I come to acknowledge the support and prayers towards the tragedy that befell my family, the assassination of John Roberto. Last day June 9, 2015, after long seven years of great suffering of parents, family and friends justice was done. The killer former corporal in the military police of Rio de Janeiro - Brazil, Willian de Paula was sentenced for 18 years in closed regime. With decision is sure there will be more care and responsibility of the military and more credibility in the justice of my country. Very grateful.  

Dearest Valeria,

I am so grateful to hear that finally, some justice has been achieved. It will never change that your sister lost her son. I hope it will make the police department institute changes to protect other lives. Our thoughts are with you and your family.



"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver